Battle of Thermopylae Essay
Battle of Thermopylae
300 is a fictionalized depiction of the 460 B. C. Battle of Thermopylae. Adapted from Frank Miller’s graphic novel 300, director Zack Snyder evidently aimed for this cinematic spectacle as historical as the Spartan’s glory. Led by King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), the 300 best Spartan soldiers fought to death against the Persian King Xerxes’ (Rodrigo Santoro) campaign of ruling the world of men, save the last one named Dilios (David Wenham) who lived to proclaim the glory of the 300 and of course, recount the story from the birth of King Leonidas to the rigors of a Spartan soldier’s life.
Through this narrative technique, we are brought to the world of grotesque-faced warriors, beautiful and cursed oracles, sex orgy, 460 B. C. political evil and gigantic fantastical beasts that made the whole movie an action historical fantasy instead of a classroom historical documentary. Created by CGI visual effects technology, the movie is an image duplication of the original comic book.
The unworldly creatures came to life, a mere number of casts looked a hundred thousand or so, the amazing panoramic dark clouds added much drama to the dark scenes and the rain of gores and blood were clearly meant for action suckers rather than the sandal supporters. Indeed, human slaughter never looked so pretty. But you do not need to be a comic book or a computer animation fan to admire this cinematic landmark. The cinematography is what grabs your attention in a different way as Gladiator or Lord of the Rings or Troy ever did.
Although I have to add that incorporating some of the said movies’ best shots like the Gladiator’s sunny wheat field scene, the olliphant-like creatures from LotR and the bird’s eye view battalion shots from Troy, gave us some moments sort of deja vu but over-all, Snyder did his homework pretty well in making this 460 B. C battle unbelievably believable. From the angles to the color schemes, the 300 movie looked like a technically polished storyboard. Every frame is beautiful and every panel is a cinematic feast.
Unlike the technically benchmarking combat between Hector and Achilles in Troy, the combats in 300 are taken NOT from a vantage point of a spectator, but from an eye level of somebody who belongs in the battle… somebody who moves in the battle. Filled with slow motion shots, the frame almost freezes to give a further zoom of the amazing sequences. The effect? Well, the audience were brought face-to-face to the thrill of the Battle of Thermopylae than they could ever imagine. The way the film flowed gave us a comic book feel to almost every scene but freed us from the eye candy gloss of the comic book.
The chained giant Persians, the leprosy looking elders and warriors, the outrageously choreographed combats and the spear-causing blood showers looked wildly more spectacular than what paint brushes or video game film-making could ever do. The irony of the special effects’ impact on creating a scene of the past while setting a cinematic future gained 300 its wider acceptance. The incredible visuals were bloody mad and ferocious, which is exactly what that era is all about and what our era tries to relive, technically. We know how this is made. Shots were indoors against a blue screen and the backgrounds were added using CGI techniques.
(Movie buffs get the hang of this technique after Twilight produced an exclusive documentary of the CGI behind their movie). Lacking of an all star casts and expensive shooting locations, we can say that the movie’s visual effects stole the spotlight. Even Gerard Butler’s commanding voice will not be given that much awe without the tiny acoustic touch. However, the visual techniques which so prodigiously employed didn’t just become the movie’s success but as well the movies failing. Having it overpower the substance made critics less indulged and more complaining.
Many said that whatever the movie tremendously have in style, it lacks in human emotions and thus fall short in portraying the historical Battle of Thermopylae as a human history, not an epic from another world. Save Queen Gorgo’s (Lena Headey) shot to rally support for her husband, all those battle speeches sounded vain for lacking frame supports. But then again, the R rating could well make us understand that it’s the bloody, violent stunts that made us pay for the two-hour beautifully-generated tortures. To quote King Leonidas, “a new age has come, a new freedom”… I guess, we just have to embrace it.